Image from iberalpugilist.com
‘Hello, I am a bisexual woman.’
Amount of years I have known this to be a truth: many.
Amount of times, to my knowledge, I have used this sentence out loud: zero.
When asked if I am gay/straight/pan/bisexual/any other category that exists on the sexual spectrum, I tend to just say ‘yes’ in the hope that I will not be greeted with a look of consternation and we can get back to the real topic of conversation (cake, vodka, ginger kittens) with as much haste as possible. Sexuality is an uncomfortable place for me, and this is why.
Even now, in the supposedly sexually liberated 21st century western world, biphobia is huge, and it is not going away. We are faced with an onslaught of intolerance not only from the heterosexual world, but in an intra-group manner, from the LGBTQ community itself. This has been highlighted by this awful article by the self-confessed ‘lesbian feminist’ Julie Bindel. The very fact that something so one-sided and intolerant made its way into the public domain utterly baffles me, but it did, and it hit me. Hard.
The sexual spectrum is just that, a spectrum. It is not binary, it is huge, it is diverse and it is downright bloody beautiful.
Knowing that one is definitely gay is as difficult as knowing one is definitely straight. The idea that sexuality is so clearly black and white is unfathomable. I once overheard a girlfriend of mine saying ‘I could never be a lesbian, vaginas make me queasy’ – this is the kind of clarity that I, and I imagine many bisexual people alike, yearn for. But, I’m sorry Julie Bindel, it is just not that simple. You may think you have made an active choice to be a lesbian (the flaws in this argument are endless, hormone levels and finger ratios lay science against you…) but you do not represent the rest of the LGBTQ society, and you certainly do not represent me. I am my own person, and I refuse to be put down by your jaded, cynical approach to the world as a whole. I can’t help but be the one to point out that your arguments against the ‘tyranny of sexism’ make you nothing but a tyrant yourself.
Yes, for some people bisexuality is an understandable gateway into ‘full homosexuality’. A stepping-stone, if you like, in a similar fashion to drinking 1% milk when trying to wean yourself off dairy products (failed vegan, if you couldn’t tell). Coming out is a hard process, and sometimes a buffer does make it a little easier. I would never begrudge a person this. At the same time, it does not make it a truth for us all.
Sexualities are different, but they are equal and they stem from the exact same principles. People are gay because they like people of the same sex, people are straight because they like people of the opposite sex, I like to think I am bisexual because I like people without regard to their sex.
There is no hierarchy, there is no better sexuality and I am very willing to dismiss Julie Bindel’s allegations as fallacies.
I don’t like men and women because it’s ‘à la mode’ or because I’m a ‘lesbian tourist’ or simply to get attention from both ends of the spectrum, and I sure as hell don’t do it to maximise my chances of a cheeky late-night fumble. I have been nothing but hindered by my sexuality in that sense – people generally don’t like maximised competition, I guess it’s primitive. It is no more likely that bisexual people will have sex with more people in their lifetime than people of any other sexuality. It doesn’t even necessarily mean they have a bigger pool of fish to choose from. It just means that all their partners won’t have the same junk in their trunk. Ends.
Now, in contrast to my sexuality, I am both extremely firm and open about my politics, and about being a feminist. A big one. One that will go to great lengths to fight symbols of patriarchal repression. That does not, however, include actively re-thinking my sexuality – something I never chose to be and could not change if I tried. I am certain that I would be bisexual whatever my political leanings were, and the notion that my sexuality, something entirely pre-programmed within me, de-legitimises my politics is just absurd.
I’ll admit, there remain to be many things that are uncertain about my sexuality but this is not one of them – I am not bisexual to try and placate anyone, least of all The Man. I don’t have sex with men to psychologically ease the burden of my fondness for women, nor to satisfy any external heteronormative pressures. Yes, such pressures exists and are heavily laden upon us all, but I’ve never been one to do something Because I Should and this matter is no different.
We are supposed to be at the helm of the equal rights movement, setting an example for the next generation of both straight and LGBTQ young people. We should be showing them that EVERYONE is the same, no matter who they choose to love, and that everyone should be treated equally. Yet this is a movement that is still clearly riddled with anti-equalist, seperatist views and weakened by the internal hierarchy that serves only to perpetuate the us vs. them mentality of the straight vs. queer communities.
The idea that people are bisexual because they are ‘bowing down to the patriarchy’ does nothing but undermine an entire group of people in society, and is just as corrupt and offensive as the misogyny it is trying to fight.
Please, let’s all stop all this fighting and factionalism. The only way we’re going to battle sexual and gender inequality is together.
@JenClaude is lovely. She’s a student (future doctor), writer, and orchid enthusiast. You can find her excellent blog at jenclaude.wordpress.com and you can follow Jen on Twitter.